When You Want to Fight Back | Part One
When should a Christian fight? What about turning the other cheek? Am I wrong to fight? But what about when the Apostle Paul says a Christian is to fight the good fight?
Though there are some things that Jesus teaches that seem easy to believe, other of His teachings can be really hard. We are very familiar with the phrase, “Turn the other cheek,” but what does it really mean? It begs the question, is the Christian never to fight?
Let me tell you a story about a girl struggling with a strong desire to fight her enemy.
After a family crisis this girl struggled for months with how to handle the situation in a godly way. She knew that God was the avenger and was certain the best way to handle the situation was by loving in return. Over time however, the pain deepened. As she saw how her family was injured and the way their life was changing, it became harder and harder to keep the anger and bitterness out. One day she came to the decision that things were different now and it was time to close down that part of her life and move on. Just as she did something unexpected happened to her that put her on her back physically and emotionally. She was broken again and empty. God showed her what her conclusion really was, an excuse to take the easy way out – to give up. God never gives up. Months later, she found herself once again coming to an emotional head. She already knew that it would be wrong to let anger take over but surely now it was time to fight. She wanted desperately to fight! But she was confused and needed to know what God would say about her feelings. God directed her to a specific part of scripture, one that was very hard to accept and yet she could not deny what God was telling her.
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.– Luke 6:27-31 (NLT)
There are certain passages of scripture where God teaches something that is clearly beyond us. In Luke 6 we are told to love our enemies, do good to them, turn the other cheek, and other seemingly impossible things.
I don’t know about you by my very being is repulsed at the thought of responding to hurt this way. God can’t be serious? Can He?
Who are our enemies?
I have a tendency to hear the word “enemy” and think in terms of soldiers fighting overseas. But an enemy can be anyone who is “actively opposed or hostile” to you and those you love. Take a moment to think of someone you know that comes under that heading. Who has hurt you? You may be able to think of more than one.
Now with these “enemies” in mind, read Luke 6:27-38.
Do you feel repulsed by what God commands us to do? Bear with me and take a moment to write out any questions, excuses, or arguments that come up as you read. Don’t hold yourself back but write whatever comes to mind, even if the questions seem too hard to have answers.
But do we fight?
This passage says nothing about fighting. But a Christian is also a warrior (Ephesians 6:14-17), it is our job to fight injustice (Proverbs 31:8-9). Even wise King Solomon said there is a time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:8). So when do we fight?
Turning the other cheek appears passive and everything in us wants to reject it. However, God never tells us to do something without giving us an example of what it looks like.
Are you familiar with the prophet Hosea?
There is a short book in the Old Testament by that name, telling the story of a godly man of whom God asked very hard things. At God’s command, Hosea –
- Married an unfaithful woman.
- Preached a hard message to a rebellious people.
- Continued in this way indefinitely.
Why did God want Hosea to do this?
God was using His servant Hosea to send a message to His people. Not only did He use Hosea’s speech, he used his very life. Everything in the faithful prophets life was symbolic of God and His relationship to His people Israel.
- Hosea’s love for an unfaithful woman that belonged to him was a symbol of God’s unconditional love for his unfaithful people.
- The prophecies Hosea preached that the people disregarded were symbolic of God’s warnings being disregarded by the nation.
- The heartbreaking pain Hosea felt at seeing the woman he loved leave him for another is how God felt when in return for His many blessings the people stopped believing and loving Him.
Hosea was a human being like the rest of us. He wasn’t anymore special being a prophet, you might say more was required of him. He could no more do these things in his power than you or I could. God gave him the strength to keep on loving and to keep on preaching. Naturally it was hard and at times looked like it was not worth the pain and struggle. But Hosea had a promise that he held on to, a promise of a great reward.
To find out what Hosea’s reward was, and to know more about when to fight, come back soon to read When You Want to Fight Back, Part Two!